These oatmeal pumpkin bars are high in protein and low in sugar. Moist and packed with the flavors of fall, enjoy them as a delicious no fuss breakfast or snack!
Healthy Pumpkin Bars
Fall season is upon us and that means all things pumpkin!
There truly is no limit when it comes to using canned pumpkin or homemade pumpkin puree! Here's a collection of both sweet and savory pumpkin recipes that will make your life easier and more delicious.
I want to tell you upfront that this recipe is NOT sweet. It is pumpkin forward and you will taste the most unexpected and wonderful ingredient - lentils.
And as with all my baked good recipes, this is intentional. Since babies are born with innate preferences for sweets, I really try to develop recipes that allow for the other flavor profiles to shine through.
They also have more tastebuds than us, adults. So while these pumpkin bars may not taste sweet to us, our babies may think otherwise ;).
But don't walk away if you do desire a sweet bar! I'll show you how to tweak the recipe to suit your tastebuds
Rolled oats - As you probably already know, I LOVE to bake with oats because they're loaded with nutrition and provide an extra-soft texture. While you can purchase oat flour, making it at home is so easy and much cheaper! You can also use quick oats.
Pumpkin spice - used to bring warm flavors to these bars. It's easy to make homemade pumpkin pie pice at home or you can grab one from the store.
Cinnamon - although it's included in the pumpkin pie spice, I encourage you to add extra!
Ground flaxseeds - A great source of healthy fats, protein, iron, zinc, and fiber. Ground flaxseeds are easier to digest as whole flaxseed may pass through the intestine undigested. I recommend purchasing flaxseeds whole and grind them as needed.
This is because once ground, it spoils fast, and there's no way of knowing how long that bag of ground flaxseeds has been sitting at the store.
Red lentils - One of the top foods to serve to babies as they're a great source of iron, fiber, and protein. There's no need to pre-soak.
Pumpkin - you can use homemade or canned pumpkin puree. If using the latter, be sure it is NOT pumpkin pie filling which contains sugar. To switch things up, you can also substitute with sweet potatoes or winter squash like butternut squash and kabocha.
Milk - use whole fat cow's milk as babies need all the fat for proper brain development. You can substitute with non-dairy alternatives, like almond or coconut milk.
Unsweetened applesauce - You can use store-bought or homemade applesauce. You can also substitute with equal amounts of mashed banana. If you desire a sweeter treat, see suggestions below.
Pecans - I just love the combination of pumpkin and pecans. Be sure to finely chop for babies. You can substitute with walnuts if you prefer, or leave out completely.
Step by Step Instructions
- In a large bowl, combine ground oats, spices, baking powder, and ground flaxseeds.
- Add cooked lentils, pumpkin, milk, applesauce, and vanilla into a food processor/blender and process until smooth.
- Combine wet and dry ingredients. Fold in pecans.
- Pour batter into a lined 9 inch square pan.
- Bake for 20-25 minutes. Cool before slicing!
Make Ahead Tips
I recommend cooking the lentils ahead of time so it's one less thing to do the day of. You can also cook up a large batch and enjoy throughout the week! It keeps in the fridge for 5-7 days and freezes well, too.
Also ground a large batch of flax seeds (I like to use this tool) and keep in the fridge/freezer to extend shelf-life.
Bake ahead of time, if possible!
These pumpkin oat bars actually taste better with time as the warm spices become more pronounced and all the flavors meld together.
You can't really taste all those yummy fall flavors right out of the oven. So if able, I suggest making this at least several hours prior to enjoying.
Frequently Asked Questions
You can certainly use non-dairy alternatives! Here are my top two recommendations
Make sure to use certified gluten-free oats to ensure they haven't been processed in the same facility with gluten-containing grains.
Yes! I used flaxseeds because so many of you have been requesting egg-free recipes. However, if there's no egg allergy, I do recommend replacing with 1 egg as the bars will be more moist.
Simply leave out the flaxseeds and add the eggs to the blender along with the other wet ingredients.
I highly suggest trying this recipe as is the first time around. My baby absolutely loves these and so does my toddler.
I will be honest and tell you, my husband not so much. But when I add extra sweeteners, he's all in. Here are my suggestions if you want to sweeten these up:
Follow the recipe as is, then top with mashed or pureed fruit, date syrup, or drizzle some pure maple syrup (best to avoid added sugars until 2 years of age)
Or to the recipe, add either: 4-5 medjool dates (be sure to soak in hot water to help soften before blending), 2-3 tablespoons of maple syrup or honey (NOT for babies under 1 yo), or chocolate chips for older kids
Serving Suggestions for kids
These pumpkin-flavored baby oatmeal bars are so versatile! It really is a good base recipe that you can enjoy as is or customize to your liking (e.g. add more nuts, pumpkin seeds, coconut, fruit, chocolate chips, etc.)
I like to top these with various toppings to make every bite count. Yogurt, cream cheese, mashed or pureed fruit, avocado, almond butter, seed butter, ricotta, dips, etc.
It's seriously the perfect breakfast or snack! It packs well in lunch boxes too.
Transfer to an airtight container and keep in fridge for up to 5 days. The texture will become more dense so rather than eating straight from the fridge, I suggest bringing to room temperature or reheating briefly in the microwave (30 seconds or so) or the toaster oven.
You can also freeze for up to 3 months. Flash freeze so you can easily pull out however many you need. Thaw in the fridge and bring to room temperature. If you want to reheat, again, do so briefly.
Other Pumpkin Recipes to try
Did you make this recipe? Leave a rating below and let me know how you liked the recipe! Your feedback means so much to me!
Healthy Pumpkin Oatmeal Bars
- ½ cup dry red lentils, (95g uncooked, 265g cooked and weighed after cooled)
- 1 cup water
- 2 cups (200g) rolled oats
- 2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice
- 1 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 2 tablespoons ground flaxseeds
- 1 cup (230g) canned pumpkin
- 1 cup whole fat milk
- ½ cup (110g) unsweetened applesauce
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- ⅓ cup (40g) finely chopped pecans
- Add lentils and water in a medium pot and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low, cover, and cook for about 10 minutes, or until lentils are tender. Cool.
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Line a 9x9 inch baking pan with parchment paper for easy removal. Set aside.
- Pulse the oats in a food processor/blender until it turns into flour. Pour into a large bowl and combine with pumpkin pie spice, cinnamon, baking powder, and ground flaxseeds.
- Add cooled lentils, pumpkin, milk, applesauce, and vanilla extract into the food processor/blender and process until smooth.
- Pour into the bowl with the oatmeal mixture. Do not overmix. Fold in pecans.
- Pour the batter into baking pan. Bake 20-25 minutes until the center is set and the inserted toothpick comes out clean.
- Allow for it cool in the pan for about 10 minutes before transferring to a cooling rack. COOL COMPLETELY before slicing.
- Transfer to an airtight container and keep in fridge for up to 5 days. Bring to room temperature or reheat briefly in the microwave (30 seconds or so) or the toaster oven.
- Freeze for up to 3 months
We've got a nut allergy here, any thoughts on a substitute for the pecans? Can I leave them out? Replace with something like hemp hearts? Thanks!
Yes you can totally leave them out no need to replace with anything but you can certainly add some hemp hearts if you wish!
Is there a substitute for the whole fat milk? We don't do dairy well here.
You can use any non-dairy alternative
Absolutely delicious. I love your recipes 🥰. I purchased all your books. I highly recommend them. Thank you so much.
Aww thank you so much! Means a lot to me!
The whole family loved this recipe! I made a double batch and froze some (but not as much as I thought, due to all of us eating it). My husband is not a fan of "healthy" (ugh), so I made a cream cheese frosting for his. I like eating mine with a little bit of peanut butter. Our little guy really enjoys eating it plain with no additions or sweeteners! For the nuts, I did finely ground walnuts and pecans. For the milk, I used 1/4 cup heavy whipping cream and 1 3/4 cup soy milk....a weird combination, but it's what I had on hand. Finally, because I doubled the recipe, I used 2 tbsp of flaxseeds and 1 egg. A bit of a hodgepodge recipe after I finished with it, but it turned out delightfully!
You are so resourceful! I'm so glad the whole family enjoyed this. Thank you for taking the time to share!
Hi Min, can i substitute flaxseed with chia or hemp seed as thats what i have at hand.
Can i substitute applesauce with pear puree and pecan with macadamia nut?
Hi, just a question out of curiosity: what happens if the lentils aren’t allowed to cool?
will turn out mushy
Great for packing for school lunch!
Truly is! I pack it at least once a week!
Melisa p says
Hi. Can I just use oats flour? Is the measurement the same as roll outs?
you can and yes will be similar
This was DELICIOUS! I made it for my 22-month-old, but I ate two servings already. 😀 So delicious and healthy! And of course, it's great that it's low sodium & no added sugar. I feel like it's hard to find baked goods that are low in sodium/sugar.
So glad you enjoyed this one!! Hope your toddler will too!
Aleksandra Burmester says
I love this recipe! It's a great way to sneak in some lentils in my babies' diet and they loved them of course because it's sweet tasting. Thank you, MIN. Your www and IG page are one of my favorite go-tos for recipe inspiration and I'm even subscribed to your newsletters to make sure I don't miss out on a recipe😉 Thank you for all the hard work and keep the great recipes coming!
This...means so much to me. Thank you for being here and for supporting my family!! That is definitely my goal!!
These are the biggest hit with my 3 yr old and my 9 month old. I make a batch weekly to have on hand for snacks.
They're always in my freezer too! So happy to hear you guys are enjoying this one!
Can these be turned into mini muffins?
Yes! Many mamas have told me they turned out fine. I would adjust the cooking time though
Kath koh says
Hi can i use fresh pumpkin or pumpkin puree for this recipe? If yes how much? Thanks
yes you can use fresh pumpkin puree
Can I substitute beans for lentils - like white beans/mixed beans?
I haven't tried it but I imagine it would work. Would you let me know if you do decide to try?
I love all your recipes. How would you cook the lentils? What consistency should it be?
hi! soft but not mushy. If you follow the directions, you'll achieve the right texture. Hope this helps!
Hi! Not sure what I did wrong or what happened, but after baking it for a good 25 mins, there's was still some flour residue inside the bars.
Hi! I'm not sure what I did or what went wrong, but there was still some flour residue inside, even after 25-26 minutes of baking 🙁
This came out really delicious. I did take some of the moisture out of the pumpkin, like I do for pumpkin cheesecake and I used ground chia seeds since I didn’t have flax.
So glad to hear you enjoyed these!
Hi, can I use butternut squash instead of pumpkin?
Sure! As mentioned in the post, you can use any winter squash, like butternut squash, kabocha, as well as sweet potatoes
Just made these today and my two year old is DEVOURING them! Thanks so much!
this makes me SOOO happy to hear! Yay!!! Thanks for taking the time to share 😉